The Canadian Football League (CFL) kicks off tonight in Winnipeg where the Blue Bombers host the Eskimos. Oskeim Sports will be providing football betting advice throughout the CFL season, beginning with Thursday’s season-opener.
Winnipeg enters the 2018 Canadian Football League (CFL) regular season with a dire quarterback situation. Starting quarterback Matt Nichols sustained a knee injury during practice last week that will keep him sidelined him for at least 4-6 weeks.
Backup quarterback Darian Durant was signed by the Blue Bombers to be Nichols’ backup but the veteran signal-caller unexpectedly retired prior to the start of training camp. That leaves rookie Chris Streveler behind center for Winnipeg’s season-opener tonight against the Eskimos.
Streveler threw for 6,081 yards and 54 touchdowns during his collegiate career at South Dakota (rushed for 1,543 yards and 20 touchdowns). Streveler passed for 4,134 yards and rushed for another 720 yards in 13 games last season and was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given to the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly Division I-AA.
The athletic gunslinger worked out for the Chicago Bears this spring before deciding to sign a CFL contract with the Blue Bombers during mini-camp. Streveler has only had three weeks of training camp to prepare for the 2018 season, which is not enough time to absorb the differences between Canadian and American football.
The 23-year-old was 10-of-10 passing for 140 yards and a touchdown in Winnipeg’s first exhibition game but completed just 3-of-9 passes for 44 yards in a 34-21 loss to British Columbia.
Streveler benefits from the fact that Edmonton has seven players on the six-game injured list, including two defensive backs. The Eskimos’ secondary will be relying on two rookies tonight so the Blue Bombers may be able to have some success through the air.
Inconsistency is expected from a rookie quarterback, especially when taking into account how rare it is for a 1st-year quarterback to start a season-opener for a CFL franchise. Indeed, a pure rookie quarterback has not started a CFL opener since 1994 when Anthony Calvillo started for the expansion Las Vegas Posse.
Without a viable quarterback, Winnipeg is expected to rely on veteran running back Andrew Harris, who was named the league’s most outstanding Canadian last season after rushing 189 times for 1,035 yards and catching 105 passes for 857 yards in eighteen games.
“I pride myself on being a four-way back, that being catching the ball, rushing the ball, blocking, being a leader,” Harris said after his team’s walk-through on Wednesday. “So whichever one of those attributes are things I need to do more of, so be it.”
Between Harris and Streveler’s capable legs, the Blue Bombers will keep the ball on the ground tonight against one of the best teams in the CFL. Streveler ran a 4.45-second 40-yard dash at pro day earlier this year so the Eskimos’ front seven will have their work cut out for them.
Meanwhile, Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly, who has thrown for more than 11,000 yards and 58 touchdowns, will be missing two of the league’s best wide receivers. Receivers Brandon Zylstra (100 catches, 1,687 yards, five TDs) and Adarius Bowman (120 catches, 1,761 yards, nine TDs) led the CFL in receiving yards in 2017 and 2016, respectively.
Zylstra is now playing for the Minnesota Vikings, while Bowman is on the other side of the ball tonight (playing for the Blue Bombers). However, Reilly was the CFL’s most outstanding player last season and is more than capable of manufacturing points through the air despite attrition at wide receiver.
Since 2008, eight of the 15 games between Edmonton and Winnipeg have been decided in the last three minutes of regulation, while five of the last 6 meetings have been decided by single-digits. The oddsmakers have Edmonton installed as a 7-point road favorite tonight and the Eskimos are 5-0 ATS in their last five road games and 5-2 ATS in their last seven trips to Winnipeg.
However, the Eskimos are a money-burning 5-11 ATS in season-openers and 3-8 ATS in June affairs, whereas Winnipeg is 15-6 ATS in its previous 21 affairs and 10-4 ATS in its last fourteen games against West foes.
Based on a very strong 31-6 ATS contrarian system of mine, I recommend a small wager on the home underdog plus the points. If you enjoyed this football betting advice, please come back tomorrow for more free betting advice in football and baseball.
Football Betting Advice: Since 2005, CFL underdogs are 498-423-17 ATS (54.1%), including 153-96-5 ATS (61.4%) in the months of June and July. When the point spread moves against the underdog like it has in tonight’s game, the underdog is 58-32-2 ATS (64.4%).